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Scientists Discover Link Between Trees and Electricity

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the lightning-leaf dept.

Power 173

An anonymous reader writes "Everyone knows trees give us all oxygen so we can breathe, but according to Australian scientists, they also affect the concentration of positive and negative ions in the air. A team from the Queensland University of Technology's International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health ran experiments in six locations all over Brisbane and found that positive and negative ion concentrations in the air were two times higher in heavily wooded areas than in open grassy areas, such as parks."

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This is truly... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446653)

Shocking!

Re:This is truly... (5, Funny)

billybob2001 (234675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446903)

Potentially.

Re:This is truly... (1)

Ghaoth (1196241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446957)

There's a State election, all the weirdo's are coming out of the woodwork.

Re:This is truly... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446969)

Ion dont know. I cant be positive that I read this somewhere else. But maybe I am putting too much spin on this...

Re:This is truly... (5, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447395)

Ionic, isn't it?

Re:This is truly... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446927)

just curious, hypothetically of course, not to be construed in any other way. this is ABSOLUTELY NOT advice for how anyone else should feel about anything. i hope people don't feel ths way and reject it personally themselves. ok? just an idle opinion and nothing more whatsoever. now then.

anyone else see a shitty world full of crazy people who waste their mortal lives chasing after money and power and sex, things that never come or when they do it's never enough, all men leading lives of quiet desperation and all of that, you look around and you see a bunch of fat, stupid, shallow people who want to play stupid games of one-upsmanship who can't listen for more than 8 seconds to anything, governments that become less democratic and more fascist, corporations that own everything including those governments, hopelessness, even going to places like churches you find they don't have the love of God they love to talk about, they still judge you by how you look and what you wear, etc... and then what few real friends (who arent just using you for their self-importance or some kind of practical use) you have are remote, hard to reach, have problems of their own, etc...

ever see that and wonder why bother with it? why is this better than being in the grave? seriously. what the hell is there that makes anything worth anything? God? where is He? getting a job and having kids so they can get jobs and have their own kids .. circular logic, for what? what the hell is out there or in there that justifies putting up with all the bullshit? is life more than a bunch of bullshit problems you didn't ask for and just dont feel like dealing with?

why is any of this better than death? well best of all would be never being born, in fact i love my kids so much i wont bring them into this psychotic world. but whats the great reason to continue to live?

Re:This is truly... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447163)

Life itself.

I do not mean to be trite; there are a great many things over which you and I have no control. A great many unpleasant things. One thing over which you have (or can have) control is yourself. How you see those other things, how you choose to react and what you choose to do are all things you can.

There's a habit of Western thought that focuses on removing the bad as a way of being left with (ideally) only the good. The problem is that this can lead to concentrating so hard and so long on finding the bad (to remove) that this is all you can see. Perhaps by shifting how you look at things and what you look for, you may find less crazy, meaningless and wasteful crap and start to see more beautiful, interesting and fun things.

I'm not advocating self-delusion or denial. Bad stuff exists. The world is a mess. But good stuff also exists, and seen another way, the world is an amazing and incredible place. It's not easy. I struggle with chronic depression and anxiety and have had to fight to un-learn through a kind of defensive cynicism and 'realism'. It may well be that there exists no meaning or sense to ... any of it. But I am a reasoning being who can find order, no matter how arbitrary, in chaos. I can impose meaning, no matter how subjective. So I do, and it is good.

Define your own fundamental beliefs - I believe that beauty exists; my aesthetic leans to the form=function and from that I have chosen to believe that the universe is comprehensible (even if not by me) and that the search for knowledge and understanding is, then, a quest for beauty. Balance your "locii of control" between internal and external so that you risk neither disappearing into naval gazing, nor becoming beholden to things over which you have no control. Dig down within yourself to find those irreducible nuggets that define you - what do you value; what is good; what is evil. No external answer is ever going to completely satisfy - but then, I'm a process rather than results kind of person.

Happy to expand or expound but this is horribly offtopic ...

Re:This is truly... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447241)

There hasn't been and never will be any reason to anything of real significance in this universe of ours. Stop asking for that which you will ever have a suitable answer to. It only leads to cults, death, destruction, and taxes. Seriously. Stop it.

Furthermore; why do you need reason to continue to live or reproduce? If you really believe what you do and do not think that life is worth living, go and kill yourself. Seriously.

There is no reason behind it all, and quite literally there doesn't need to be. Life just is, and for the most part, good. Deal with it.

Re:This is truly... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447279)

> anyone else see a shitty world full of crazy people who waste their mortal lives chasing after money and power and sex, things that never come or when they do it's never enough, all men leading lives of quiet desperation and all of that, you look around and you see a bunch of fat, stupid, shallow people who want to play stupid games of one-upsmanship who can't listen for more than 8 seconds to anything, governments that become less democratic and more fascist, corporations that own everything including those governments, hopelessness, even going to places like churches you find they don't have the love of God they love to talk about, they still judge you by how you look and what you wear, etc... and then what few real friends (who arent just using you for their self-importance or some kind of practical use) you have are remote, hard to reach, have problems of their own, etc...

Whoa, calm down there! For starters, let's try to solve one thing at a time, shall we? Over here, we say eating the hot porridge starting from the border...

First -- and I at least try to see me as a religious guy -- what would a Christian like me say to a Buddhist? Tell him about Jesus? Sure, great idea, it's noble work. But then, I also must be prepared to hear his side and have consideration for his ideas. It's not a one way thing, you know... All I am saying is: do your thing, but also watch your world. Not everything can be planned, and there's joy in just observing how little things can be interesting.

If your present reality is truly bad (like in a war zone), do what you can to change things. Beyond a certain effort, though, think about changing where you live. Some people escpaed persecution in the past and lived to return later to their homeland.

If your problems are financial, take a wider view. I was in a pinch once and solved it by becoming a government worker, something I loathed. I reasoned the private market didn't want me (or I didn't know how to sell myself) -- and that was a terrible thing, to be wasted when I could do something useful in this world.

Excuse me for maybe being simple-minded, but I venture the best you can give your kids is exactly that: an interest for what comes in the next act, the flame of curiosity and that "what if" mentality -- used for good things, that is. So, for instance, if "friends" just judge based on appearance, what if you get a friend from a distant country, where people use long vests and can't tell what you wear from what others wear? I once met a Chinese guy who searched for the meaning of Portuguese words in an English/Mandarin dictionary. When asked about it, he told me Portuguese and English are too similar! Can you believe it? Well, from his point of view, maybe they are indeed.

If you allow me a blunt observation, isn't the case that your objectives are themselves not very motivating? Recently I thought about that old Ugly Duckling fable... so, the ugly duckling actually turned into a beautiful Swan and everybody marvelled at its beauty. But what if it still cared about the old family? Does it really matter to become beautiful if one's family thinks you're ugly? (that reminds me of Marylin from The Munsters... very funny). And what does it mean to aim for family recognition, if everyone will always see you like lil' Bert... how would Albert Einstein feel being told by his mother to finish the veggies?

Also, do recognize life is fragile and can be damaged piecemeal, so do whatever you can to improve things little by little, because they can be also healed piecemeal. Make a balance of your life: to remember the good things you once had and lost (because the memories themselves are valuable) and to better take notice of improvements. One things I noticed since some time is that things go worse everyday, but on a greater timescale, things do improve: criminals have a tougher life, diseases are cured, someone has an idea and things get simplified. Problems are objects, they're not alive... we are, thus it's unavoidable they will someday be conquered -- for some, ok, not in our lifetime... but others are defeated on a daily basis.

Finally, some days are shitty while others are bright, inspiring... sometimes it's like enduring the low tide and waiting for the high, when you know you'll be able to sail fast.

IMHO. Heh.

Re:This is truly... (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447021)

...negative ion concentrations in the air were two times higher in heavily wooded areas

I am not going into the woods -- there is so much negative energy there.

Re:This is truly... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447045)

Aww, don't be such a wuss. I hear the vibes are positively electrifying.

Also: now taking theories on why this is in the 'hardware' category instead of 'science'. The less plausible, the better.

Re:This is truly... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447709)

They read it wrong, and thought it was the 'hardwood' category.

Re:This is truly... (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447989)

not to mention free radicals

And yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446669)

We clear cut most of the USA long ago.

(something i noticed while looking for some land to buy, the only trees the usa has left in any large areas is in national and state parks.)

Re:And yet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446691)

Really! When I fly, and when I browse the country using google earth, I notice that the USA is mostly dense wooded areas. I don't know what USA you're looking at, but it isn't the one here on Earth.

Re:And yet. (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446865)

I think he exaggerated a bit. But most of the non-protected forests are replanted fast growing pine monocultures, not healthy natural forests.

Some interesting numbers (5, Informative)

pigwiggle (882643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447475)

http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/library/briefings-summaries-overviews/docs/ForestFacts.pdf [fs.fed.us]

"It is estimated that—at the beginning of European settlement—
in 1630 the area of forest land that would become
the United States was 1,045 million acres or about 46
percent of the total land area. By 1907, the area of forest
land had declined to an estimated 759 million acres or
34 percent of the total land area. Forest area has been relatively
stable since 1907. In 1997, 747 million acres—or
33 percent of the total land area of the United States—
was in forest land. Today’s forest land area amounts to
about 70 percent of the area that was forested in 1630.
Since 1630, about 297 million acres of forest land have
been converted to other uses—mainly agricultural. More
than 75 percent of the net conversion to other uses
occurred in the 19th century."

And it does go on to describe the kinds of differences - one of which you mention - between historical and contemporary forest composition.

Re:And yet. (1)

ElBeano (570883) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446811)

Indeed, but with replantings there are more trees, a lot more, than a century ago.

Re:And yet. (0)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446925)

What USA are you talking about? I can't even drive across a northeastern state without running into forest. Even New Jersey, the state with the highest population density in the US, is roughly 1/4 pinelands.

running into forest... (4, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447039)

Maybe you should keep your eyes on the road.

Re:And yet. (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447237)

Trees aren't equal. Fast-growing trees drain nutrients but absorb little CO2, for example. Very damaging to the environment, if planted in excess - which is why it is common in the US. Plantations are also not "woods" in any meaningful sense - woods aren't just trees, but complex ecosystems that include wildflowers, fungi, etc. Real woods don't generally have massive wildfires, those are almost invariably the consequence of plantations or excessively-managed areas. Not always, true, but natural forests with natural clearings and natural recycling of raw materials will tend to utilize forest fires to sweep out excessive trash and allow seedlings to grow -- this is obviously not possible when the heat destroys even the fire-resistant seed pods/cones and topsoil.

Re:And yet. (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447463)

Trees aren't equal. Fast-growing trees drain nutrients but absorb little CO2,

Citation needed.

1) One would think a fast growing tree would have to absorb CO2 (and nutrients) in order to build all that cellulose quickly.

2) If that tree is subsequently harvested (and a new one replanted) and converted into timber, or paper that ends up in archives or landfills it means more CO2 locked up for years (yes paper manufacturing is normally environmentally unfriendly but it doesn't have to be so)

Re:And yet. (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447645)

You don't know what you're talking about. Trees are good as habitat, and for erosion... but CO2? The vast, vast majority of CO2 absorbed is done so by algae in the oceans. Trees are barely a blip. Pines grow fast and burn easily which enriches the soil. Clearly you dont live anywhere where there's a forest but when you do... there are fires. The pines burn quickly. The oaks survive... the pines leave ash which makes the soil less acidic and acts as fertilizer. Most pinecones only open when heated by fire... that's evolution for you. The phoenix trees.

Re:And yet. (2)

xquercus (801916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447311)

something i noticed while looking for some land to buy, the only trees the usa has left in any large areas is in national and state parks.

That's not entirely true. I live in Maine. Indeed, it was pretty much clear cut a century ago. At that time, it was only about 20% forested. We simply cleared much of the land in order to farm. Over the last 100 years, we have moved away from agriculture and the state is now about 90% forested. Very little land here is actually in the hands of the feds or the state. In fact, about 2/3 of the land area is owned as large parcels (millions of acres) by private timber companies.

Many other parts of the country have similar stories. Trees were clear cut a century ago. As areas moved away from an agricultural economy, reforestation occurred. A great deal of the land in the central part of the US, which is now used for agriculture, has not been heavily forested in centuries. The trees weren't cut down -- there just weren't many to begin with.

Re:And yet. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447401)

I've been wondering about that.....recently I drove across the midwest, and I noticed a lot of plots of land have grown trees as they are no longer used for farming.

How does that happen? Why do people stop using their land for farming? Do they just keep it to have a nice place to spend a weekend? Or is the land so cheap that they don't actually worry about paying property taxes?

Re:And yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447625)

Do they just keep it to have a nice place to spend a weekend? Or is the land so cheap that they don't actually worry about paying property taxes?

Get a nice tax write-off on a recreational or conservation easement and do both.

Re:And yet. (4, Interesting)

xquercus (801916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447685)

How does that happen? Why do people stop using their land for farming? Do they just keep it to have a nice place to spend a weekend? Or is the land so cheap that they don't actually worry about paying property taxes?

I can't speak for the midwest but in New England there were once a lot of fairly small farms. If a house comes with an additional 5-50 acres of property, at $1000 an acre for rural land, it may not add a great deal to the cost of the house. If it's wetland, and therefore difficult to develop or harvest timber from, around here it might go for $500 an acre. Many people with a few tens of acres in this area are engaged in small scale timber harvesting so having the extra land isn't necessarily a financial burden.

As far as taxes, some people will place "the back 40" in to tree growth. State law here allows a landowner to develop a timber harvest plan and get a significant reduction on property tax. In unincorporated parts of the state, I've heard this amounts to $1/acre per year in total tax. I don't know how much of a tax rebate individuals get inside an incorporated town but it is very significant. A number of communities have been complaining about the state mandated tax abatement program and urging reforms because of abuse. For example, owners of waterfront property have been known to place the land into tree growth even though they couldn't possibly harvest the timber due it's close proximity to water -- environmental laws. Of course, this is some of the more expensive property as well.

When I lived outside Seattle I heard of tax abatement programs for landowners who use their property for agricultural uses. Some of the requirements were pretty minimal. We had neighbors who stabled horses or bread a horse per year specifically so they could receive abatements which were only available for land used for agriculture. Property taxes were quite high there so I can certainly see the appeal of working the system.

Re:And yet. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39448033)

Interesting

Re:And yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39448075)

something i noticed while looking for some land to buy, the only trees the usa has left in any large areas is in national and state parks.

That's not entirely true. I live in Maine. Indeed, it was pretty much clear cut a century ago. At that time, it was only about 20% forested. We simply cleared much of the land in order to farm. Over the last 100 years, we have moved away from agriculture and the state is now about 90% forested. Very little land here is actually in the hands of the feds or the state. In fact, about 2/3 of the land area is owned as large parcels (millions of acres) by private timber companies.

Many other parts of the country have similar stories. Trees were clear cut a century ago. As areas moved away from an agricultural economy, reforestation occurred. A great deal of the land in the central part of the US, which is now used for agriculture, has not been heavily forested in centuries. The trees weren't cut down -- there just weren't many to begin with.

I think you have your time lines a little crossed. About 100 years ago before the advent of the pulp industry the forest was almost completely stripped of mature lumber quality trees. There was still a vibrant and diverse second growth forest. Then our propensity for screwing things up got in the way and we allowed private timber interests to control the forests and they mostly created a mono-culture as a result. The natural choice was fast growing pines and this is why there is any semblance of forest left in most of eastern North America.

Most of the huge up to 10 foot diameter old growth long lived white pines were gone by about 1850 in upstate New York, Maine, Southern Ontario, Quebec, Vermont and New Hampshire and as a result the new forest is no where near as efficient at surviving serious fire, the transpiration and retention of ground water, (thus stopping erosion and floods), surviving disease, resistance to insect pests without the use of insecticides, production of natural foods, sustaining wild life and the list goes on.

I am sure these guys [wikipedia.org] could and would easily try to disprove these claims. But the fact is that what we have done is left a shell of what once was. Eventually we will begin to realise what could have been if greed had not clouded our understanding. We have sold out to industry and our descendants will suffer for our collective greed and stupidity.

I a not saying that all industry is evil but industry that destroys the very basis of its own existence is without a doubt the cause of the fall of past civilisations. Greed and slavery destroyed Rome, denuding forests destroyed much of North Africa, and perhaps had a hand in the destruction of other civilisations here in North America.

If we destroy our boreal forests the same way we destroyed the Eastern White Pine ecology and the incredible ecology surrounding the Great Lakes then it is only a matter of time before we see the desertification of North America and an ecological collapse of something that we are only beginning to comprehend.

The ratfynk

Re:And yet. (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447599)

We bought 160 acres of densely forested land a while back. The only part not wooded were a few acres at the front that had been used as farmland. One summer we rented a tree planter, pulled it behind a tractor and in a matter of 3 days planted 70,000 trees. (they're really cheap when you buy them in that volume) We also raised turkeys and released them into the wild (illegally) and brought the wild turkey back to the county in question over a period of 10 years or so. As we put out more and more broods the neighbors started getting involved. Some of our neighbors started gathering roadkill and leaving them in piles in strategically placed areas with pre-made nesting boxes... now we have bald eagles. I'm not sure where the bears and cougars came from but I'm sure there are similar stories involving them that I don't know about. The simple fact is, as a child growing up in the 70's, there were NO big game animals in that area besides deer. There were a few grouse and pheasant but that was about it. Now the countryside is so rife with wildlife we're starting to have problems with Car+bear accidents. It's an amazing change. If there's one thing the USA has got going for it, it's the return of the wilderness.

Re:And yet. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447711)

We also raised turkeys and released them into the wild (illegally)

While I applaud your spirit, I condemn your reckless hippie bullshit. The bears and cougar showed up because there's food around, good job on acclimating some large predators to humans (slow clap).
Look, I'm all for reintroduction of species, reforestation, etc. But it needs to be done in a cautious manner. Everything needs to be properly monitored and tracked, as you run all sorts of risks in terms of impact on other species, disease, imbalances in the flora, etc. You've already pointed out one major unintended consequence, and there are sure to be plenty more... some good and some bad.

And I really, really hope that you released legitimate heritage bloodlines into the wild. Because those are very hard to find, and the last thing we need is the wild population getting mixed with crap industrial genetics because some "do-gooder" thought they'd give the Earth a hand.

Re:And yet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39448257)

Fuck off man, I think what he did was great.

Avatar (4, Funny)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446671)

The planet is one giant brain!

Re:Avatar (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446681)

Damn, that was quick... I came to make the same joke...

Re:Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446909)

I came here for the Tesla tree reference. Alas, I'm leaving disappointed. The humanity should hang on the thorn tree, really.

Re:Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39448105)

And if it isn't a joke?! Brrr...

Re:Avatar (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446893)

Obviously you have not read about the Gaia [wikipedia.org] hypothesis. If there is a global consciousness then it would make perfect sense that vegetation could be akin to dendrites. And further to that wind could be akin to a chemical neural transmitter that stimulates ionisation in the atmosphere which is the realm of the highest level of earth as a being. If you think of it we might be akin to serious a virus infecting a higher being...and climate change causing huge atmospheric disturbance might just be in reality an extremely sophisticated immune response, that in killing off the infection does only temporary damage to the host.

Just posting this to scare the hell out all the "global warming" GOP sponsored sudo science freaks that post here on ./ on a regular basis.

Re:Avatar (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446937)

I just spent several seconds wondering why GOP sponsored science required root access. "Pseudo" is the word you were looking for.

Re:Avatar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447459)

I just spent several seconds wondering why GOP sponsored science required root access. "Pseudo" is the word you were looking for.

Sorry I had to sudo to post this on /. , my old handle here was the ratfynk and what I was trying to say was I have seen many anti "global warming" and obviously republican leaning pseudo science pundits desperately trying to discredit legitimate scientists that are investigating the theory of global warming. You know the same crowd that laughed when Al Gore stated that (if I remember his actual words correctly) " the greatest problem with advancement of the American economy is the reliance upon the personal automobile".

I have seen the real results of global warming on forests:

Take for instance the boreal forest from about the 50th parallel north which is under siege. We are very close to loosing the lungs of the northern hemisphere [wikipedia.org] to beetle kill...just in case you are interested in what is really happening outside of cities and the the US [nature.com]

If any one thing caused the election of an obvious petroleum sponsored anti environmental, war obsessed president it was this statement and the boost that George 11 Rex Junior and Dick (the head) Cheney got was the fact that the leader of the democratic party was trying to pick a fight the auto/petro cartels.

At about this time the cut backs in grants to those studying environmental science started, and huge subsidies to the petroleum and then the auto industry became the norm. So instead of real research into how to co-exist with nature we still have a system of government bent upon subsidising the destruction of the environment.

Right now poor old Barrack is trying desperately to appease the oil industry so that the assholes that brought us 911 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and 4 dollar a gallon gas don't get back into power.

What does this have to do with planting forests or seeing if there are other strange connections within earth's ecosphere that can help heal the earth and thereby help stabilise the economy?

Well, if we continue to subsidise the usage of personal automobiles and ignore solutions like advancement in public transportation, climate science, natural energy production (bio fuel for example) then in a matter of years the cost of cleaning up after tornados and constantly having to put out fires both diplomatic and of the forest kind will make investing in the possible cures when it was possible will look like small change.

This is the price we will pay if the Republicans are re-elected. Essentially we will wind up paying pseudo scientists to study the reasons why we should ignore global warming instead of learning how to deal without having to put gas in our cars. As it is the Republicans are telling us to ignore the warning signs all around us and that in return they will put 2fifty gas in our cars and cut down all the trees to rebuild the mess that all the tornadoes and floods are making. Same way the assholes helped in New Orleans eh?

  Being a Canadian I am proud to say the by and large we did more to help New Orleans with the cleanup after Katrina than George Rex did! If the republicans are re-elected I am sure we will just bend over and surrender all northern Alberta oil and sit back and watch as our forests are either eaten by bugs or cut down to rebuild the mess the tornadoes are making!

The ratfynk

Re:Avatar (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447179)

The amazing thing is: You can criticize anyone for pseudo science at the end of that post.

Get off the acid, kid. You've had enough.

sudo make me a sandwich (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447199)

sudo science freaks

Anonymous Coward is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.

Re:Avatar (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447259)

Gaia doesn't involve global consciousness. Gaia merely requires that life is dominated by negative feedback loops such that the positive feedback loops are totally suppressed.

Re:Avatar (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447421)

Gaia merely requires that life is dominated by negative feedback loops such that the positive feedback loops are totally suppressed.

What does that mean? That creatures are starving to death when there are too many of them, and that's a negative feedback loop? Shouldn't the negative and positive be in balance? And I thought Gaia meant the earth is conscious, at least that's what I learned from Final Fantasy.

Re:Avatar (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447871)

I'll use his example of Daisyworld. In this abstract model, there are two types of daisy - black and white. The black daisies, by lowering the albedo of the surface, warm the local climate up. White daisies, by raising the albedo, cool the local climate down.

If black daisies increased in number when warm, the temperature would rise through a positive feedback loop and they'd cook themselves. They're stable ONLY when they prefer a relatively cool temperature. The opposite is true for white daisies.

This is a negative feedback loop. The populations will grow until the sum total is in equilibrium. Once they reach that point, the solar energy can increase or decrease and the daisies will simply alter ratio accordingly, keeping the temperature of the planet in dynamic equilibrium. You have to reach a catastrophic tipping point before the system is incapable of ever recovering.

ANY system that exhibits properties that violate this basic principle will NEVER reach a stable point, it will catapult itself into a catastrophic state almost immediately and then extinguish itself.

Re:Avatar (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39448023)

ANY system that exhibits properties that violate this basic principle will NEVER reach a stable point, it will catapult itself into a catastrophic state almost immediately and then extinguish itself.

So this essentially means that the earth IS in Gaia state, unless human action does something radical.....(or a giant meteor, or something like that)

Re:Avatar (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39448191)

That is correct.

Re:Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447795)

Gaia doesn't involve global consciousness. Gaia merely requires that life is dominated by negative feedback loops such that the positive feedback loops are totally suppressed.

After Reading TF Book my understanding was that feed back loops that occur on a planetary scale were a form of intelligence thus implying consciousness. And that this was an hypothesis. And I have not taken acid in about 45 years fyi ...also I am on the sudoers ...just I have real trouble finding myself nowadays even as root

#
# As of Debian version 1.7.2p1-1, the default /etc/sudoers file created on
# installation of the package now includes the directive:
#
# #includedir /etc/sudoers.d
#
# This will cause sudo to read and parse any files in the /etc/sudoers.d
# directory that do not end in '~' or contain a '.' character.
#
# Note that there must be at least one file in the sudoers.d directory (this
# one will do), and all files in this directory should be mode 0440.
#
# Note also, that because the sudoers file is not a 'conffile' in the Debian
# sense, and sudoers contents can vary widely, no attempt is made to add this
# directive to existing sudoers files on upgrade. Feel free to add the above
# directive to the end of your /etc/sudoers file to enable this functionality
# for existing installations if you wish!
#

The ratfynk

Re:Avatar (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447837)

Lovelock's Daisyworld has no consciousness . The idea that Gaia implies consciousness (sometimes referred to as the Strong Gaia hypothesis) is an extension that does not appear to involve James Lovelock or the branches of planetary ecology that he developed. His work tends to be referred to as the Weak Gaia hypothesis in which the planet is an "organism" and "alive", but not conscious.

Re:Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447269)

Of course there is no consciousness to the planet itself, it is not a sentient entity.

You want proof? If there were, it would have long ago produced a cure to its most destructive cancer (homo sapien). Think about it.

To the topic at hand: Why is this even news? Most everyone already knew that (moving) air around objects did this. Ask whoever wrote your local rules on above-ground gas lines, let alone a scientist.

Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446673)

Static electricity occurs when one thing rubs against another thing. Trees have a lot more surface area for the wind to rub against than empty fields.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446723)

It's not obvious to me that it is true that a "grassy area" has less surface area than a wooded area. You can fit a lot of blades of grass in the space a tree takes up. Now, they say parks, so maybe they're talking about trimmed grass, but untrimmed grass can grow pretty high.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446801)

Blades of grass are occluded by other blades of grass in the field so only the edges of the field get full contact with the wind. The leaves on a tree are spread out so many more leaves get directly exposed to the wind.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (0)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447059)

The existence of "amber waves of grain" in wheat fields and so forth, your hypotheses doesn't seen to hold up to real world observation.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447911)

Should I suggest the obvious house versus multi-story apartment analogy or can you work it out on your own after two seconds of thought?

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (2)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446821)

It's not obvious to me that it is true that a "grassy area" has less surface area than a wooded area. You can fit a lot of blades of grass in the space a tree takes up. Now, they say parks, so maybe they're talking about trimmed grass, but untrimmed grass can grow pretty high.

I assume you can push more wind through trees and their leaves than you can through grass. Like you said grass can grow a lot, but in my experience it seems it would be too dense and would just deflect most of the wind over the top of the grass. Of course, this is all speculation, I find it hard to believe this wasn't identified long before now. We have rather detailed real time maps of ion radiation used for many things including the detection of nuclear weapon use.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447143)

Ions (charged particles) are not all related to radiation.

Ionizing radiation (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447205)

Ions (charged particles) are not all related to radiation.

Then why are alpha, beta, and gamma radiation called "ionizing"? Alpha is a positive helium ion, and beta is an electron.

Re:Ionizing radiation (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447297)

Ions (charged particles) are not all related to radiation.

Then why are alpha, beta, and gamma radiation called "ionizing"? Alpha is a positive helium ion, and beta is an electron.

Note the phrasing: "not all", implying that some are, and some are not. An ion is a charged particle, a waterfall produces additional ions in the air without the involvement of radon or other ionizing radiation.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (5, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446781)

That isn't the mechanism the paper is proposing. What the authors suggest is that trees uptake radon dissolved in groundwater, transpire it into the air, and that it is the radioactive decay of radon that would be responsible for the ions released by trees.

So: Trees _are_ polluters! (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447589)

Trees releasing dangerous radioactive gases into the atmosphere? Egads, we better cut all those polluters down!

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (3, Funny)

Higgins_Boson (2569429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446823)

Static electricity occurs when one thing rubs against another thing . Trees have a lot more surface area for the wind to rub against than empty fields.

Is that the feeling we get from sex?

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446891)

Static electricity occurs when one thing rubs against another thing . Trees have a lot more surface area for the wind to rub against than empty fields.

Is that the feeling we get from sex?

You're asking this on Slashdot?

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (4, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447029)

Static electricity occurs when one thing rubs against another thing . Trees have a lot more surface area for the wind to rub against than empty fields.

Is that the feeling we get from sex?

You're asking this on Slashdot?

The fact that someone posting on slashdot has to ask what sex feels like doesn't surprise me at all.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446945)

Is that the feeling we get from sex?

You're in the wrong site... nobody here will now anything about that.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (2)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447057)

You're thinkng of orgone.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

calzones (890942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446841)

Trees wear rubber-soled shoes?

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446915)

Headline : Aussies finally invent Capacitor.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447177)

However, they don't have an insulator creating a space between the leaves and the ground. If this explanation ends up being it, then I would imagine it like being in a very large, air dielectric, capacitor. The ions are dielectric loss in the huge and oddly constructed capacitor. Even though each leaf is small and, while it might build a reasonable voltage, I have never gotten a shock from touching a leaf, so I am thinking there isn't much charge per unit area....but.... all those leaves make for a pretty good surface area.

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447231)

Interesting and insightful, really? Mods obviously don't RTFA any more than any one else here.

Though I would have modded it funny, maybe. Especially if you picture someone rubbing the trees with a gigantic balloon...

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447423)

Though I would have modded it funny, maybe. Especially if you picture someone rubbing the trees with a gigantic balloon...

Or a tiny cat.

Bad kitty, bad!

Re:Seems kind of obvious that this should be true (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447515)

This joke hasn't been funny since Karl May published "The Ghost of Llano Estacado".

This has been known (5, Informative)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446795)

This has been known for a very long time and it's very much common knowledge. Ambient negative ion levels can even be obtained through weather services in my country. My Daikin air conditioner even claims to keep ambient ion levels at "lush forest" levels and it's not near new. Just do a google search for "forest negative ion" and you'll find tons of products and articles on the subject. Why is this at all news?

Re:This has been known (1)

Tehrasha (624164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446813)

No kidding. For example, high ozone concentrations in forests is decades old news.

Re:This has been known (2)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447119)

Trees produce pollution! And pollution is good, without it we wouldn't have the Smoky Mountains! /Reagan

Re:This has been known (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446905)

Not new. The paper's proposed mechanism (transpiring radon brought up from the ground) might be.

Re:This has been known (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446921)

What are the implications? Do the levels of various ions in the air impact human health in any way? How do they differ in cities vs suburbs vs the countryside?

Re:This has been known (3, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447345)

A few searches will give you quite a few hits for detailed analysis but I'll give you a quick rundown of how I understand it:

What are the implications?

Higher concentrations of negative ions in the air basically leads to "cleaner" air. The basic idea is that the negative ions are attracted to positively charged particulates which they latch on to and break down. Negative ions can also break down bacteria. More details in this wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_ioniser [wikipedia.org]

Do the levels of various ions in the air impact human health in any way?

Yes but I'm not personally aware of how much and I'm not sure how much scientific study could have a corporate bias behind it (to sell air purifiction technologies). Reguardless, it's pretty much been scientifically proven that particular levels of negative ions (not too much, but above a certain level) have human health benefits. Some studies I've seen claim negative ion rich environments make the environment more physicall comfortable (more refreshed and energized) to the body which leads to higher energy and lower stress - and personally that's why I purchased higher quality air conditioners and filtration units which I do *feel* make my living and working spaces more comfortable.

How do they differ in cities vs suburbs vs the countryside?

I'm assuming it is -generally- true that cities would likely have lower concentrations than the suburbs which would in turn have lower concentrations than the countryside.

Re:This has been known (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447025)

I hope you didn't pay extra for the "lush forest" feature (i.e. bought a Daikin when you could have bought a cheaper similar airco without it) because there's no evidence that the ions are good for you or make you happy or whatever. Furthermore, they can't really honestly call it "lush forest" unless it also pumps out radon and ozone.

Re:This has been known (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447053)

"This has been known for a very long time and it's very much common knowledge."

Do you even know what common knowledge is? I'd like to see you do a man on the street vid and ask people if they already knew this. If you find even one that does, I'll be impressed (unless you happen to be canvassing outside some science-heavy office/education buildings, then I'll be slightly less impressed).

Re:This has been known (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447065)

If your air conditioner keeps ion levels in your residence at forest levels the same way trees purportedly do in this new research, through releasing radon into the air, it's time for you to get a new air conditioner. And maybe a Geiger counter.

Re:This has been known (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447193)

What is the obsession with Slashdotters declaring things as "not news"? Is it sour grapes that other people are at least submitting articles and you aren't so you must shit over everyone else's efforts, as though you'd be perfect if only people acknowledged you as the best person ever in the history of the whole wide world?

Re:This has been known (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447405)

This is the first time I think I've ever made the claim but I did so because they presented the article like they'd JUST NOW discovered it and this was something revolutionary and that bothered me. The title/description is also completely misleading: [negative] ions are concentrations of electrons but they are not "electricity". On top of that the actual study they did found absolutely no new information and yet they are basically claiming they did. Well, actually the article claims they did - the scientists don't actually seem to be making that claim it just seems to be inferred by the author of the article. So: old information from a research study lazy graduate students have probably rehashed ad-nauseum, misleading article, straight up awful and inaccurate article description = not news.

Trees - Natures Radon Pumps... Wait, what? (4, Interesting)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446835)

At first I was thinking "more positive and negative ions... Wouldn't they be attracted to each other and take care of that? Then I read TFA.

"Trees act as radon pumps, bringing the gas to the surface and releasing it to the atmosphere through transpiration - a process where water absorbed by the root system is evaporated into the atmosphere from leaves. This is especially prevalent for trees with deep root systems, such as eucalypts."

The QUT scientists estimated that, in a eucalyptus forest, trees may account for up to 37 per cent of the radon in the air when transpiration rates were highest.

So... If I go into the forest, I'm more likely to be breathing radon, and at greater concentrations? Um... I do like the trees, but from this I'm not sure the feeling is mutual...

Re:Trees - Natures Radon Pumps... Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446981)

Maybe the Terrible, terrible movie whose name shall not be spoken wasn't that far off after all? Just exaggerated the method and effectiveness they were trying to use to kill us?

Re:Trees - Natures Radon Pumps... Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447469)

Maybe the Terrible, terrible movie whose name shall not be spoken

You mean The Crappening?

This is cooler (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39446839)

http://www.livescience.com/5711-electricity-harvested-trees.html

Trees actually produce a small current when a nail is inserted into them and connected to a ground. It is not via the same mechanism as a battery.

Brill ideas (1)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446849)

As they say, test and experiment, test and experiment. *heads outside with a fork*

Re:Brill ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447041)

Beware the poisonous mushrooms. They slide onto the fork as easily as the edible ones.

Disappointed.. (1)

a2ms (1722742) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446885)

When I read the article's title I thought they finally learned how we could plug our laptops into trees..

No shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447055)

It's called lightning

Semantics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447077)

...are important when discussing science.

Everyone knows that trees give us all oxygen so we can breathe...

Thank you trees! We love you!

Strange science (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447115)

There was a guy I read about in one of those kooky FORBIDDEN SCIENCE books you have to order from the back page of a catalog that also sells spirit crystals, dream catchers and cheap swords. I didn't get to read the entire chapter on him, but he was utilizing a system of rods stuck into the ground hear trees to harness energy. It seemed to be pseudo-science of the most laughable sort at the time, but now, I dunno. He could have been on to something.

Awesome (1)

Sav1or (2600417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447197)

Welp, time to remake Lord of The Rings and give those Ents lightning powers.

Trees charging the earth (1)

michael_rendier (2601249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447351)

Goes along with my theory that the static charge created by the earth moving through it's own atmosphere, through plants and their roots and such, delivers a heavy charge to the crust of the earth. Imagine dryers and spokes on bicycles or rigging on a boat...

Re:Trees charging the earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447739)

It is also consistent with my theory - that it has something to do with clouds, and big gaps.

that means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447507)

try to get the cable connected to the trees with electron turbines

Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39447605)

Seems this research points to Trees as having an ability to communicate to one another through the concentration of emissions of positive and negative compounds in the air.

The length scale of the communicaiton is vastly longer than nurons in our brains.

So like the Trees in Lord of the Rings, the real Trees are still considering things and planning to devise a proper course of action.

Go Trees!

Wot??? (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447607)

> Everyone knows that trees give us all oxygen so we can breathe

I certainly don't know any such thing. In fact I thought forests were net zero oxygen because when trees die the decay of the tree consumes as much oxygen as the tree produced during its life. Not to mention that of course at night the tree is burning the sugars it made during the day by photosynthesis.

Plankton is where there is a possible net oxygen increase because when they go dead they can sink, and when that happens they don't decay.

Re:Wot??? (2)

CesiumFrog (41314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447959)

> Everyone knows that trees give us all oxygen so we can breathe

I certainly don't know any such thing. In fact I thought forests were net zero oxygen because when trees die the decay of the tree consumes as much oxygen as the tree produced during its life. Not to mention that of course at night the tree is burning the sugars it made during the day by photosynthesis.

If that were true, why does the global atmospheric CO2 concentration (whilst obviously increasing year after year) have a seasonal oscillation with its phase matched to the growing season of the northern hemisphere (which has an excess of forests rather than ocean)?

Plankton is where there is a possible net oxygen increase because when they go dead they can sink, and when that happens they don't decay.

It might be the production of carbon-rich soil that you're overlooking.

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